Incineration plant a first for Bangkok
C&G Environmental Protection Holdings Ltd, the Hong Kong-based waste-to-energy (WTE) company, has submitted a blueprint to the Bangkok administration seeking approval to start construction of the capital's first incineration plant.
At a cost of 900 million baht, the 30-rai plant in western Bangkok's Nong Khaem district is designed to process 500 tonnes of city waste a day and generate 9.8 megawatts of electricity.
The project, the second of its kind in Thailand, will be completed in 2014.
"We've finished the environmental impact assessment and the public survey, and both results have proved very positive," said project manager Whitaya Sopondirekrat.
The Singaporean-listed firm set up a Thai branch in 2006 and secured its first WTE project in July, winning the Nong Khaem bid.
Thailand produces an estimated 40,000 tonnes of waste a day, 90% of which goes into landfills. In Bangkok, about 10,000 tonnes of waste are transported to three massive landfill sites in the northern, eastern and western parts of the city.
"Landfills are suitable for areas where GDP is not high and there is sufficient land," said Mr Whitaya. "But when urbanisation and industrialisation accelerate, mountains of garbage produced by a continually increasing urban population become a critical challenge for fast expanding cities such as Bangkok."
Incineration has been widely used in developed countries such as the United States, Japan and European Union members. In Singapore, 100% of residential garbage is collected and treated to generate power. Compared with landfills, incineration is a highly efficient and environmentally friendly method of municipal waste management.
"There is a deep-rooted perception, particularly among Asians, that incinerators are harmful to the neighbourhood, as they produce odours and noise, pollute water and discharge toxic gases and dust into air. But in fact, technology has solved all these problems," said Mr Whitaya.
While some types of garbage such as plastic bags left in landfills take centuries to decompose completely, incinerated residue is close to soil and can be widely reused as construction materials.
About 30% of the area will be plantation area. It will also encompass a small public garden for neighbourhood residents.
Under the build-operate-transfer (BOT) agreement signed with the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, C&G will operate the facility for 20 years.
Specialising in waste incineration power plants for the treatment of municipal solid waste, C&G now owns and operates 10 plants in China, the biggest of which has a daily processing capacity of 2,000 tonnes.
The company has also set up branches in Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia under an aggressive international expansion strategy.
"This is the first one in Bangkok. We're speaking with several local governments about more project opportunities in Thailand," said Mr Whitaya.
Under the BOT contract, C&G is responsible for investing, building and operating the incinerator. The government will pay a fee of 1,000 baht a tonne, which covers the collection, transport and processing of garbage, as well as other costs.
"We can quote the lowest price, which is impossible for our competitors. Singaporean firms, for instance, charge 3,000 to 4,000 baht a tonne," said Mr Whitaya. "We also have to compete with landfills, which cost no more than 1,000 baht a tonne. That's not profitable at all, so we've focused on long-term development."